Birmingham boy among hundreds with new bike courtesy of Beaumont Children's Miracle Network

Susan Bromley/ Hometown Life

July 11. 2019

Colin Schrader might seem like any other child on a hot July afternoon, biking down a sidewalk by his Birmingham home.
And that is exactly what is so delightful to his mother, Erin, who doesn't have to run alongside him any more after the 6-year-old, along with about 125 other children, received specially adapted bicycles from Beaumont Health and the Children's Miracle Network.

“It goes fast,” Colin says with a big grin. “When it goes fast enough, it goes through the grass and you don’t need to use your feet (to stop).”

This bike is a lot more stable than his old one, which he learned to ride when he was 4, but which was frustrating to him and Mom as he continually fell. A mild form of cerebral palsy affects Colin's balance, requiring braces for his feet and physical therapy.

Children ages 2-18 who participate in physical therapy at Beaumont Health clinics are eligible for specially adapted bicycles, at an average cost of $2,500, all funded by sponsors including Children’s Miracle Network.

On June 29, Colin and more than 125 other children took possession of the bikes for which they had been fitted in May, and which are commonly adapted with high back harnesses, adaptive pedals and special tires like the “FATWHEELS” on Colin’s bike.

All of these adjustments can put a childhood pastime within reach for a child who might not otherwise ever have the experience, and the bikes serve the dual purpose of bringing happiness while also strengthening abilities both physically and mentally.

“It's incredibly rewarding and to me it brings it right back to home why I became therapist: to help children find a way to have the best life possible and have as many activities as their peers,” Debbie Adsit, supervisor for the Beaumont Center for Children’s Rehabilitation, said. “This program helps us be able to do that for these children.”

While it is rewarding to watch the children experience the joy of a bike, she also loves to see the joy of the parents and also siblings.

“When you have a baby, you have simple dreams, you think about your own childhood and what you want to give them,” she said. “When you have a child with disability, you think those experiences are taken away, but they don’t have to be.”

Colin was so excited for his bike and has been talking about it constantly for the past several weeks. Now that it has arrived, he eagerly awaits the streamers his mom has ordered for the black bike, but in the meantime, he rides all over in his driveway and on the sidewalks by home while Mom helps his 3-year-old sister Kate ride a trike.

“When he’s happy, I’m happy,” Erin Schrader says simply. “I stick close by, but he is much more stable… I definitely think he is more confident.”

Colin has a small abrasion below his right eye, a result of falling a few days ago after making a sharp turn while going a little too fast, but he is unfazed.

“I still like my bike, even if I got hurt once, it won’t stop me from riding it more,” he said.

Moments later, Colin speeds off down the sidewalk, just a boy on his bike.

After receiving a FATWHEEL bike from Beaumont, Colin Schrader is ready for a summer of safe fun in his Birmingham neighborhood
John Heider/ Hometown Life

Contact Susan Bromley at
Follow her on Twitter @SusanBromley10.

FATWHEELS Adaptive Bikes for Kids with Special Needs
Children and adults with disabilities can bolt these to various bicycles to make riding a bike much easier

By Jenny Kalish / Match 21, 2016
Detroit Metro Parent Magazine

For 22-year-old Geordi Berlingieri of Plymouth, learning to ride a bike didn’t come naturally growing up. Geordi suffers from an intellectual disability that makes it difficult for him to keep his balance on a bicycle.

“We had gone to physical therapy, occupational therapy, bike-riding clinics and so on, and he just couldn’t ride,” recalls Geordi’s mom, Colleen Berlingieri. “So we stumbled upon this product on the internet,

FATWHEELS, which are kind of like regular training wheels on steroids. ”FATWHEELS come in three sizes: Small, Large and Adult. They’re incredibly sturdy and can be affixed to various size bicycles. Not only did FATWHEELS help Geordi learn to ride at age 10 - he was able to ride successfully on his very first try.

"We were tickled pink", Colleen says. "We couldn't believe that we just put them on and away he went.

Realizing the potential FATWHEELS could have in the special needs and physical therapy communities, Colleen later purchases FATWHEELS with her husband, Tony in 2013 from the company's founder in North Carolina (it first debuted in 1997). The family, which also includes son Jacob, 11, hasn’t looked back.

Most recently, they’ve been working with parents/caregivers, hospitals, outpatient clinics and school progrmas country wide to get FATWHEELS to children and adults who need them. They've also sponsored a group of advanced engineering students at the University of Michigan to develop a new "quick disconnect" version of FATWHEELS Adult model.

It’s had a big impact on Geordi’s life too. He doesn’t have a driver’s license, so FATWHEELS help him independently get around his community.“

I know it’s just bike-riding, but it's more than that," Colleen says, "For a child, riding your bike around the neighborhood, I mean that's a rite of passage, that's inclusion.